By Michael Broerman, Contributor
Key Tracks: “Bad Love,” “Celebration #1”
It is difficult to nail down Night Beats because it brings so many sounds–there’s the psych guitar, garage tone, then the soul and incredible energy that is a pivotal part of its sound. Its third album, Who Sold My Generation, gives hope to the music world because new music with this classic sound is rare, but Night Beats beautifully bridges familiar styles with contemporary techniques.
The album’s opening track, “Celebration #1”, is a shining beacon of the band’s psychedelic influence–a spacey electric guitar shuffles from ear to ear as it solos, while a distant voice speaks Morrison-esque ramblings. The rhythm guitar is highly distorted, giving it a fuzzy sound, but the lead tone is creamy smooth.
“Power Child” sounds like it could be a Cream single from 1967 with the passionate, coordinated crash and harmony in the refrain and some old British pop sounds tossed in the mix. This could be because Night Beats shares the same three member dynamic as Cream themselves, with a lead guitar-playing vocalist, a bassist and a drummer; however the comparison is hammered home by the way they all come together in the refrain. Even with just three members, though, Night Beats creates a rich, full sound with much assistance from James Traeger’s pounding drums that meet Lee Blackwell’s guitar riffs so perfectly.
Night Beats continues its hopscotch across musical influences with the song “Bad Love”. With its horns and driving drum beat, the song is a journey into the soulful side of the album. However, Beats keeps its personal touch with the guitar that hops from side to side of the stereo as it shreds.
On the modern side of the spectrum, some songs like “Shangri Lah” or “Turn the Lights” are reminiscent of modern acts like Cage the Elephant or even The Growlers. The singing has a lot to do with this, as Lee’s voice comes through the speaker with that far away kind of sound.
“Porque Mañana” (“For Tomorrow,” for our non-Spanish speaking friends) is the most adventurous piece on the album — far removed from the stoner-metal garage band Night Beats establishes itself as earlier on. Believe it or not, this song has Spanish influences in the lyrics, guitar strumming, and the choice of percussive instruments.
The only bad thing about Who Sold My Generation is that the songs aren’t long enough. Some very serious jams are started up, only too see the song abruptly end — the longest song on the album being only five and a half minutes (which is strong incentive to see Beats live).
Despite this, it’s safe to say that Night Beats is what the contemporary music scene has been missing. Neither it nor Who Sold My Generation is confined to any genre or style — and that is what makes it so great. The sky’s the limit for this group if they stick to this niche dynamic.